To Boston from a Runner

16 Apr

I am a runner.

It has taken me a really long time to say that.  I always thought that runners were the people faster than me, who ran more than me.  I thought they were people who made a living off of it or who at least won an award here and there.  But yesterday, after coming back from a run, I spent two hours in my sweaty clothes, glued to a livestream on my computer and reaching out to everyone I know who lives in Boston or has family there.  I fielded text messages from people asking if I knew, hoping I wasn’t in the race.  This is not to say that I have more of a right to be devastated about what happened at the finish line of one of the most celebrated marathons in the world.  It is just to say that for a second I thought, god, what if I was there.

My first thought when looking at the video was about the time on the finishing clock.  It read 4:09 when the first bomb went off.  Anyone who has run a marathon knows that around the 4 hour mark, plus and minus about 15-20 minutes, is when most people finish.  It is when the road is especially crowded; when runners are especially focused and fading; when spectators are especially excited, scanning the thousands of finishers for their friends and loved ones.  It was, in that way, a perfect attack.  It hit when emotions were at their peak, when the potential for casualties was highest.

So now I am reminded once again that we live in what some call a “post-9/11 world” and the marathon is the latest casualty.  Security will be tighter, I would imagine.  Will they monitor our bags more closely?  Will we have to take off our shoes when we enter the corrals lest we smuggle in an explosive?  Will spectators have to go through metal detectors?  The magic, I am afraid, will be gone.

Marathon Day in New York City is like a holiday for me.  I wake up early, I rush to my corner, I jump up and down to keep warm while I wait to be amazed by the elite runners and the tens of thousands that come after them.  I stand there for hours and I cheer until my hands hurt from clapping and my voice hurts from screaming.  It’s a day when people achieve a seemingly impossible distance.  When camaraderie is built between people who have never before met and who will likely never meet again.  It is a day when everyone gets to prove to themselves that all the work they did — those early mornings, those painful miles, those track workouts and hill repeats — was all worth it.  Now the beauty of it, the innocence of it, the simplicity of it, will forever be tainted.

We now live in a world where it seems unreasonable to not have escape roots for possible bombings at all major events.  To not have armed guards at entrances to schools and stadiums.  Maybe some of you think the way we act internationally made this inevitable.  Maybe you think our grief over Boston, over all the people maimed, scarred and killed, is hypocritical because we don’t pay that much attention to the scores of innocent people killed by the United States every year.  And you know what, you are partially right.  Our country is in the wrong a lot.  But the thing is, it is unreasonable to expect people not to be devastated and scared by this.  The point is, I think, that all lives are of equal value.  That does not mean we should feel less compassion for people killed for no reason in Boston because our government regularly and needlessly kills people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria.  It means we should feel more compassion for those killed abroad because we know what senseless violence feels like now.  Again.  We know what it is to be confused and petrified and angry.

So, I am a runner.  And I will run again tomorrow.  And I will be out there cheering the marathoners on come November here in New York and I will qualify, and run, the Boston Marathon.  Because that’s what runners do, we keep right on running.  And that’s what people do, we keep going on.

So all my love to Boston.  To the runners, the spectators, the families, friends, loved ones of all those impacted.  You are in my thoughts.  You will be on my mind through all the many miles I will run this spring.  And hopefully I will be there cheering or running sometime soon.

6 Responses to “To Boston from a Runner”

  1. Nick Foden April 16, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Great post.

  2. Mindy April 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    RUN….RUN…..RUN….away, toward, into and out of the goodness in your heart.
    Out of the determination, in your mind. Because you must go on. Run because it is what you feel. How you feel. Because, it is you.

    This, another chapter of too many tragedies, to many hearts stopped by faceless, nameless, human beings who believe their ’cause’. earns them the right to injure, permanently change or worse, kill off our innocence.

    To those humans that are so very cowardly, choosing this, a profoundly tragic circumstance instead of being true in their own hearts and braving their beliefs, in a manner that is peaceful, understanding and most importantly the correct approach.

    Run, Rebekah. Because you must keep on keeping on. If not for the pleasure running brings to you, than because in the end, if we stop running, we will never stop running.
    I LOVE YOU

    • FranklyRebekah April 16, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      I love you, too! That was a really beautiful comment. Miss you!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] I wonder, are we really? When I wrote my thoughts about Boston on Tuesday, I wondered, among other things, about what sort of security implications […]

  2. April, You Stink | franklyrebekah - April 25, 2013

    […] topsy-turvy and unpredictable.  But it has also been great. I had my best blog day ever, albeit a blog written about an event I wish never happened, a blog I wish I never had to write.  I participated […]

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